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As a cooperative, Great River Energy is motivated by listening to and providing services for our member-owners and their consumers. So when we noticed a growing interest in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), we decided to explore the technology and our potential role in that market.
What we discovered after our initial research efforts is the important role PEVs will play in increasing energy security, improving fuel economy, lowering consumers’ overall fuel costs and reducing emissions.
We also believe that electric utilities play an intrinsic role in consumers’ consideration of PEVs as a personal transportation option. Fleet electrification may also prove beneficial for business and industry.
We are already looking at ways to make it easier for consumers to drive electric vehicles, and currently offer rebates for residential charging stations that encourage off-peak or time-of-use vehicle charging. This strategy enables consumers to use more electricity during night-time hours when prices are typically lower and when the electricity is frequently produced from the region’s abundant wind resources.
Great River Energy recently launched Revolt, a first-of-its-kind program that allows cooperative members to upgrade the electricity used to fuel their PEVs to wind energy at no additional cost. While the PEVs enrolled in Revolt will be powered by wind energy, standard or off-peak rates still apply for electricity used to charge them. This program extends to members who already own or lease a PEV and members who purchase or lease a PEV by Dec. 31, 2016.
We are also looking at what it takes to develop PEV charging infrastructure in greater Minnesota. We have two PEV chargers for public use at our Maple Grove headquarters with plans to install additional charging equipment in 2015, including a number of Level 1 charging ports for employees. Great River Energy is proud to have been accepted as a Department of Energy Workplace Challenge partner.
We think it’s important to listen to a variety of stakeholders and are participating in Drive Electric Minnesota, a coalition of groups that work collaboratively to bring electric vehicles and plug-in charging infrastructure here. We also conducted a summit last year to learn more about PEVs from nonprofits, government and environmental groups, subject matter experts, electric engineers as well as PEV owners.
Great River Energy anticipates going further down the paths of stakeholder engagement, research, demonstration, infrastructure pilots and partnerships in an effort to increase PEV market stimulation. We believe we can provide utility leadership in educating our members and promoting PEVs as a realistic transportation option. We look forward to helping promote and develop a robust PEV market in Minnesota.